The Pulse of the Bay report, just published by the San Francisco Estuary Institute, summarizes the present state of Bay water quality and looks ahead to the possible condition of the Bay 50 years from now. The report documents the levels of pollutants found in the Bay, and examines whether the Bay’s waters are clean enough to be safe for fishing, for swimming, and to provide healthy habitat for aquatic life.
The toxic “mystery goo” that was spilled into San Francisco Bay in January, harming hundreds of birds, has finally been identified. State government scientists say it’s a polymerized oil similar to vegetable oil.
But the identification of the substance yields no clues about where the spill came from. No responsible party has been found, and scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife say that this may be as far as the investigation can go.
In a win for a safer San Francisco Bay, the California Legislature recently passed a ban on the sale of consumer products containing plastic microbeads, starting in 2020. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill, AB 888, into law.
San Francisco Baykeeper advocated in support of this legislation, along with our environmental partners, including Clean Water Action and 5 Gyres. We also provided legal advice in the drafting of the legislation.
Baykeeper is standing up against coal contamination in San Francisco Bay. On September 21, Baykeeper will urge the Oakland City Council to cancel plans for exporting coal from a new shipping terminal. The terminal would receive coal in long trains running along railroad tracks near the Bay’s shore and Bay Area communities.
If plans for coal export go through, up to nine million tons of coal would arrive each year in freight trains from Utah, shedding dust along tracks that run near the San Francisco Bay shoreline and residential communities.
On Tuesday, August 25, Baykeeper presented arguments in the California Court of Appeal in our case to stop excessive sand mining in San Francisco Bay, and a ruling will be issued within 90 days. For years, private companies have been permitted to mine too much sand from the Bay, contributing to erosion at Ocean Beach and threatening important Bay species like Dungeness crab. Yet in 2012, the California agency that oversees sand mining, the State Lands Commission, approved a large increase in Bay sand mining.
Only three ships are left from the Ghost Fleet of Suisun Bay—the decaying military ships that poisoned the San Francisco Bay ecosystem for 40 years. Baykeeper legal action led to a federal government cleanup and removal of the 57 ships, starting in 2010. The cleanup process was expected to last until 2017, but it’s now ahead of schedule.
A federal judge recently dismissed a railroad industry lawsuit against new requirements that railroads be prepared to clean up oil spills from train accidents in California. The railroads were seeking to stop a California law passed last year, known as the Statewide Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program.
Baykeeper recently filed a lawsuit to stop methods of dredging in San Francisco Bay that contribute to shoreline erosion and harm endangered fish. Our lawsuit challenges the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s approval of the next decade of dredging of San Francisco Bay ship channels by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Dredging of ship channels in San Francisco Bay is necessary, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t harm endangered fish, the Bay, or the coast,” said George Torgun, Baykeeper Managing Attorney.
State legislation sponsored by Baykeeper, a bill that would have protected wildlife and San Francisco Bay waters from the impacts of toxic chemical spills, was recently killed by budget-cutting legislators.
Senate Bill 718 was inspired by the January release of a mysterious sticky gray substance into the Bay. Dubbed in press reports as “mystery goo,” the unknown toxic chemical killed more than 200 birds and harmed many more.
It’s safe to go in the water at most Bay Area beaches when the weather’s dry, according to the Annual Beach Report Card released today. A few Bay Area beaches have clean water even during wet weather. But at several local beaches, the water is too polluted to go in, in both wet weather and dry.
The report card, issued by Baykeeper’s partner, Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay, assigns a grade of A to F to beaches along the West Coast for water quality. Better grades indicate a lower risk of illness for people who go in the water.